“It became a healing journey for a lot us. We got to use the power of music to heal others, and to heal ourselves as well.” Emanuel Remilus, member of the Northwell Health Nurse Choir
During the worst days of the global pandemic, New York was one of the hardest hit places on the planet. The staff at Northwell Health System, New York’s largest private health system, arguably saw more patients than any other organization. Yet in the midst of darkness and despair, the Northwell Health Nurse Choir emerged to offer hope and healing.
Who is the Northwell Health Nurse Choir?
The Northwell Health Nurse Choir is a group of 18 nurses from New York’s largest private health system, the 23-hospital Northwell Health System. The group is made up of front-line nurses who came together during the pandemic, using music to capture the essence of the collaboration, teamwork, and sacrifice that healthcare workers around the country demonstrated during the worst days of the global pandemic
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The choir members are:
Jodi Beasley – Cardiac Nurse, Long Island Jewish Medical Center
Jodi Beasley is a wife, mother, and grandmother who enjoys cooking, singing, and educating patients.
Darice Borlaza – PACU Nurse, Long Island Jewish Medical Center
A lifelong singer, Darice Borlaza is a dedicated mother of three who is active in her church.
Jenny Philip Chacko – Adult Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Phelps Hospital
In addition to singing and nursing, Jenny Philip Chacko is a disability advocate.
Gaelle Clesca – Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Cohen Children’s Medical Center
When she isn’t working or studying for her PhD, Gaelle Clesca spends time with her family, ballroom dancing, and singing.
Danielle Filippone – Registered Nurse, Staten Island University Hospital
Inspired to become a nurse after witnessing the care her mother received, Danielle Filippone uses song to communicate with her 7-year-old son, who has autism.
Janelle Garcia – Hematology-Oncology Nurse, North Shore University Hospital
Janelle Garcia enjoys dancing and watching shows on Netflix. She comes from a family of nurses.
Julieta Hernandez – Registered Nurse, Cohen Children’s Medical Center
Julieta Hernandez loves travel and Italian food and is known for singing to premature babies in the NICU.
Josh Hombrebueno – Cardiothoracic ICU Nurse, South Shore University Hospital
Josh Hombrebueno teaches chemistry and enjoys cooking. He started singing in high school and continued through college.
Keshia Jaboin – Assistant Nurse Manager, North Shore University Hospital
Keshia Jaboin loves traveling and singing. She cherishes every day and loves being a nurse.
Lisa Kennedy – Registered Nurse, Long Island Jewish Medical Center
In addition to singing, Lisa Kennedy loves being a lactation consultant and helping mothers to bond with their babies.
Winnie Mele – Director of Perioperative Services, Plainview Hospital
A nurse for over four decades, Winnie Mele loves spending time with family, especially her three sons.
Christian Montanez – Float Registered Nurse, North Shore University Hospital
Christian Montanez’ musical talents go beyond singing: He plays guitar and beatbox, and he raps too!
Shonda Ramirez – Nurse Case Manager, Long Island Jewish Forest Hills
Shonda Ramirez attributes her love of singing to her mother. She is a mother of four and has been an ED nurse for almost 30 years.
Emanuel Remilus – Nurse, Cohen Children’s Medical Center
After spending significant time in the hospital as a child, Emanuel Remilus was inspired to become a pediatric nurse himself.
Jonell Kenneth Robles – Assistant Nurse Manager, Lenox Hill Hospital
In addition to singing, Jonell Kenneth Robles loves travel, fitness, playing piano and saxophone, and spending time with family and friends.
Ben Thomas – Nurse Educator, Plainview Hospital
Ben Thomas is passionate about educating his patients. He and his wife, who also works for Northwell Health, are parents of small, active children.
Cassidy Toben – Nurse Manager, Lenox Hill Hospital
Cassidy Toben enjoys travel and spending time with family and friends. She is grateful that her lifelong passion for music led to participation with the choir.
What’s their story? How did they start?
The nurses who make up the Northwell Health Nurse Choir are all health-care heroes in their own right. They were each hard at work, doing their best to deliver high quality patient care through the worst days of New York’s battle against COVID-19, when an email arrived inviting the system’s entire nursing staff to submit 30-second auditions to participate in what was to be a one-time event: A virtually-recorded song that would be broadcast at a celebrity concert benefiting Nurse Heroes Live on Thanksgiving Day 2020.
Those selected each prepared their own recording of either Stand by Me or Lean on Me, and those videos were spliced together for the performance. The nurses reveled in the chance to share their talents to raise awareness of the global nursing shortage and to provide funds for nursing scholarships. The end result was met with such enthusiasm that one year later the group was invited to participate in the popular NBC television show America’s Got Talent! Rehearsing for the show was the first time the individual members got to meet one another face-to-face.
The national audience that watched the show fell in love with the choir. Their reception was wildly enthusiastic, and they were pushed through to the competition’s finals by celebrity host Howie Mandel, who used the show’s “Golden Buzzer” to fast-track them. Though they did not win in the finale, the Northwell Health Nurse Choir inspired the nation.
Where have they appeared?
Though the heady days of America’s Got Talent are long gone, the Northwell Health Nurse’s Choir continues to be both popular and inspiring. They have been invited to appear and perform at all types of occasions and appearances, including:
- In December of 2021, the choir performed at Carnegie Hall as part of the MasterVoices’ A Joyful Noise concert marking the holiday season and celebrating a return to live performances following the pandemic.
- At the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s national conference in Atlanta, Georgia, they performed You Will Be Found from the Broadway show Dear Evan Hansen while a photo montage of nurses during the pandemic was shown.
- The group performed “We Need A Little Christmas” at “In Performance at The White House: Spirit of the Season.”
- The choir was invited to perform on Live with Kelly and Ryan as part of their “Very New York Christmas” show.
- The group performed at the 2021 Time Person of the Year Awards celebration.
- Northwell Health Nurses Choir was the opening act for Train at the Jones Beach Theater in June of 2022.
- The choir performed at Fenway Park for Boston Red Sox’ Nurses Night.
- On March 17, 2022, the group led the261st Annual New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade with fellow essential worker heroes.
Where will they appear next?
While the choir has no new events posted on their Instagram page, their recent appearance as the opening act for Train at the group’s AM Gold Tour performance at the Jones Beach Theater may be an indication of things to come. In the meantime, they will continue to be remarkable ambassadors for their organization, singing and shining a spotlight on the nursing profession.
- “A Very New York Christmas.” Live with Kelly and Ryan. Accessed July 22, 2022.
- “COVID-19 Outbreak — New York City, February 29–June 1, 2020.” CDC. Accessed July 23, 2022.
- “From Hospitals to Carnegie Hall: Nurse Choir Heals Through Harmony.” Medscape. Accessed July 22, 2022.
- “New York’s largest private health system now 100% vaccinated.” ABC News. Accessed July 23, 2022.
- “Northwell Health Nurse Choir gets Golden Buzzer on ‘America’s Got Talent.’” Newsday. Accessed July 23, 2022.
- “Northwell Health Nurse Choir to Perform Live on ‘America’s Got Talent.’” NBC New York. Accessed July 23, 2022.
- “Northwell Health Nurse Choir.” Northwell Health. Accessed July 23, 2022.
- “Northwell Health Nurses Choir to Perform at Jones Beach.” Newsday. Accessed July 22, 2022.
- “Nurse Heroes Celebrity Concert Series and Choirs – Honoring Nurses Everywhere.”
- “Nurse Night.” MLB.com. Accessed July 22, 2022.
- “Video of Nurses Singing at the White House Viewed 5 Million Times.” Newsweek. Accessed July 23, 2022.
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